September 21, 2009
Posted: 1617 GMT


The history books may one day talk about the fall of 2009 as the period when U.S. strategy in Afghanistan either succeeded or took a turn for the worse.

What that exact refined strategy is (one must "define success) or how many troops it will take to control a worsening situation is still an open question for many. But according to a leaked report, the man in charge of military operations in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is reportedly asking for more troops.

The Washington Post has published portions of the leaked document, in which McChrystal says more troops on the ground or needed or the war will "likely result in failure."

The highly anticipated document is now said to be on President Obama's desk for review.

We will cross over live to the Pentagon for more on that story.

We will also go live to Pakistan and New York for more on the courtroom appearance of a young Afghan-born man, who is at the center of a terrorism investigation. Najubullah Zazi's will face a judge this afternoon. We cover the latest.

Plus, we will talk about another kind of the courtroom drama in France. Former French Prime Minister Dominique Villepin is in the dock, accused of smearing current French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the years leading up to the last presidential election. Jim Bittermann is live in the French capital.

Speaking of drama, we will preview some of the most highly anticipated United Nations General Assembly speeches and a ruling against Formula One team Renault.

All those stories and the day's top business, sports and weather news.

See you at our new time at the International Desk in 45 minutes!


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September 18, 2009
Posted: 1843 GMT

For several weeks, there were no reports of protests on the streets of the Iranian capital but a yearly demonstration designed to show support for the Palestinian cause today became a springboard for opposition activists.

We will show you pictures and video coming into CNN, that show large gatherings and marches. Political opposition leaders are defying orders not to protest. We'll talk to Christiane Amanpour about the significance of the demonstrations and whether the opposition movement can remain energized in the months to come.

Also at the IDesk today, we will cover a new missile defense shield proposal coming from the NATO chief, who says the U.S., NATO and Russia should consider unifying their programs.

In London, we will talk to Nic Robertson about accused Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi's efforts to clear his name before he dies. Hundreds of pages of legal documents related to Megrahi's case have been published online for all to see. On his website, Megrahi says he wants to convince the world he had nothing to do with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people.

Plus, Richard Roth will tell us more about what to expect from next week's United Nations General Assembly. Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Obama, Sarkozy and the heads of state of other countries in the news. We'll be covering the event extensively at the IDesk.

All that and the latest Obama poll numbers at the top of the hour.

On a quick housekeeping note, remember IDesk moves to 1pm Est – 7pm CET starting next Monday. Hope you can join us in our new time slot!


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Posted: 1520 GMT

Earlier, Hala Gorani spoke with the mothers of the three American hikers detained in Iran, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal. They sent a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asking for him to release their children on compassionate grounds.

Filed under: Ahmadinejad •Hikers •Iran

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September 17, 2009
Posted: 1800 GMT


Hello everyone,

In a move certainly designed to alleviate Russian concerns, the Obama administration today said it was scrapping plans for a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. It will be replaced by what Barack Obama calls a "missile defense architecture," which doesn't involve physical installations in Eastern Europe.

Moscow was always opposed to the Bush-era plans for missile shields in its own backyard. American military officials now say any decision on whether to use Eastern European countries as a base for missiles will be pushed back to 2015.

This is as much a political move as it is a military one. The United States needs Russia in its efforts to convince Iran to give up nuclear technology. That is a much bigger diplomatic priority for America than keeping Poland and the Czech Republic happy.

Don't forget to take part in our poll below on whether you think it's a good idea to reverse course on the missile defense system.

Later at the IDesk, we'll talk live to the mothers of three hikers detained in Iran for the last two months. Iranian authorities say Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were arrested on Iranian territory. Their mothers say they were hiking in the Kurdish region of Iraq and would never have intentionally crossed over the border.

The three mothers this morning sent a letter to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pleading for their children's release. They say they've timed the delivery of the later a week before the Iranian leader attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Also today, all the latest on the Yale student murder case, the Islamist insurgent attack on an African Union base in Somalia and the day's other top business, weather and sports stories.

On a lighter note, we'll take a look at some unusual records, on the day the Guinness Book of World Records named a new “world's tallest man.”

See you on TV!


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Posted: 1554 GMT

Filed under: I-Desk Poll

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Posted: 157 GMT

People Magazine named the best dressed celebrities of the year.  Hala and Nicole discuss who made the cut:

Who would be on your list?

Filed under: Celebrity •Entertainment •Fashion

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September 16, 2009
Posted: 1836 GMT


Hello everyone,

We will start the show with the latest out of Afghanistan. European Union election monitors have voiced concern over potential wide-scale fraud in the August 20th presidential race. They say up to 1.5 million ballots may be fraudulent.

Today, Afghanistan's electoral officials have declared incumbent Hamid Karzai the winner with more than 50% of the vote but say they will only make the results official when all the allegations of fraud have been investigated. And so the electoral chaos continues.

We will then go live to Baghdad where Chris Lawrence is traveling with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Biden is there to meet with political and military leaders, a day after a mortar attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Later, we will talk about why race has once again taken center stage in U.S politics. When Barack Obama was first elected, it wasn't unusual to hear analysts talk about a "post-racial America," where the bi-racial Commander-in-Chief embodied all of America. Sure there were those who would always have a problem with Obama but, many said, as a nation, the United States had put the worst of its racial issues firmly in the past.

Fast-forward to today. A Republican congressman, Joe Wilson, shouted "You Lie" during Mister Obama's joint-session speech on healthcare reform September 9th. A few days later former president Jimmy Carter says a lot of the animosity directed at the President is based on the fact he is a Black man. And race is the main topic of conversation all over again.

All this has been brewing for a while, but it remained firmly in the margins, with ultra-conservative talk-show host types like Glenn Beck of Fox News (who has said of President Obama that he has a "deep-seated hatred of White people").

Now that it's hit the mainstream, we will try to understand what this means for President Obama, his policies and the future of race relations in America. And we will monitor the President's response as he prepares to give several high-profile television interviews in the coming days.

We will also look at all the latest news from the world of business, sport and politics.

On a lighter note, we will talk about People Magazine's list of ten "best-dressed" women with our colleague from, Nicole Lapin.

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Posted: 1402 GMT

Fans and celebrity friends alike are sharing their admiration for the actor who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.  Hala and Nicole look at the overwhelming response:

What's your favorite Swayze moment or line from a movie?  Join the conversation!

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Filed under: Idesk •Internet •iReport •Twitter

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September 15, 2009
Posted: 1802 GMT


A quick note today because it's a full show and we are moving stories around the rundown until the last minute.

We'll start with more reaction to the U.N. Goldstone report that accuses both Israel and armed Palestinian groups of having committed war crimes during last January's conflict in the Gaza strip. We will cross live to Jerusalem and speak like to the head of the International Bar Association for more on the legal aspects of the document.

We are planning to go live to Baghdad, where mortars landed inside the heavily fortified "Green Zone" where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is currently on a visit.

Chris Lawrence is travelling with the Vice President and will join us on the line.

In the business world, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve has said we are most likely at the end of the recession that has cost the American economy so many jobs and brought the world financial system to its knees. We'll go to Wall Street for market reaction.

Plus, the latest poll numbers on what American think about the war in Afghanistan. Support for American involvement in Afghanistan has been plummeting in recent months. We'll talk to our deputy political editor Paul Steinhauser in Washington.

Plus a look back at the life and career of Patrick Swayze. His death at 57 really saddened me. I loved him in "Dirty Dancing," loved him in "Ghost" and all who knew him said he was an all-around great guy.

All those stories and a lot more so tune in at 9pm CET!


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Posted: 1731 GMT

A few minutes before today's first edition of I-Desk, we got word of a bill approved by France's lower house of parliament. Normally, this wouldn't make news. But, this time, it caught our attention. And, here's why:

The bill aims at cracking down on illegal internet downloads. It's an issue that has plagued the "information superhighway" for several years. Countries all over the world have made attempts at stopping internet piracy... And, frankly, most have failed. But, in this law, France proposes suspending internet use for people caught performing illegal downloads. That's right, lawmakers want to cancel the internet for online criminals.

The law has already gone through legal wranglings, including a ruling from a constitutional court. And, it's expected to continue moving through the court system. Yet, some are commending France's aggressive moves to stop internet piracy - namely, recording artists, artists, and producers. But, is the proposal going too far? And, more importantly, can it even be enforced?

For now, the law remains in parliament. The next step is for a joint committee to take a look at it and vote. But, there's little doubt, that if it's approved, the law could have a significant impact on internet users everywhere.

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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